Friday, February 27, 2009

You've Got to be KIDDING Me

Here I am, after yet another trip to the ER...this time, accompanied by emergency surgery. Surprise! Yes, my ovarian cysts are back, with a vengeance. Everybody knows most sequels suck, and this was no exception. The pain was radioactive this morning around 5 a.m., so off we went, for more of the same testing but on an accelerated schedule. I went in for surgery four hours after being checked-in; after another three hours, I woke up sans several raging cysts and 2/3rd of my right ovary.

Apparently, the right cyst was putting enormous pressure on lil' ol' ovary, twisting it and cutting off blood flow. So, I had to bid farewell to part of my babymaking parts. :( (That's me being generally bummed and too zoned on pain meds to more cleverly / poignantly articulate how I feel about this. Ovaries, I publicly apologize for the melon baller comment!!!)

J said he would have 2/3rds of his right testicle removed in a sign of solidarity. We're probably not going to do that.

This was my first 'real' surgery (other than having my wisdom teeth pulled back in 1993), so I was a bit skittish to hear about the breathing tube and potential anesthesia complications. I don't remember this, but the minute they put the sedative in my artery (or does it go in a vein?), I was OUT. J said I started hiccuping like crazy and slurred, "Oh wow, that was unexpected!"

God, even under major sedation I find a way to add dorky commentary to a given situation. I wouldn't be surprised to hear I sat up halfway through surgery to Cliff Clavin them with a little fact I'd just learned: that ALL of our pee smells like sulfer after we eat asparagus--some of us just lack the genetic material to SMELL it.

Also? J is famous everywhere we go. First, we discover that our favorite restaurant employs a girl he used to have a major crush on in high school (he even had her senior picture in his wallet TWELVE YEARS LATER, and while we were eating during that discovery and probably because I made fun of him about this, he stuck the photo in a potted plant near our table. She probably was really freaked out by that.) Second, guess who was working behind the desk across from my OR prep room? Yep! A "girl who used to have the hots for" J.

I was going to scan and include some photos from my laprascopy, but some of you might be eating. Just trust me when I tell you they were gross and alarming. Like, watching-The Discovery Channel"I can't believe this guy has a whole tumor hanging from his face!" gross. At least they were to me.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to hold a private little thing to mourn the lost of part of my ovary. The doc says it can regenerate, so here's hoping. Here's also hoping my cyst issues are behind me!!!!

PS: Demitri Martin makes me chuckle. So I'll probably be TIVOing him for later, until my tummy heals.

Monday, February 23, 2009

She is Not-So Risen After All

How was your weekend? We had two events on our Sunday itinerary, which is rare for us. The second was a chili cook-off organized by the Riverwest Co-Op, where my future bro-in-law dazzles local palates on a daily basis with his culinary creations. Six chilis were up for review, including two submitted by him: a guava jelly concoction and a roasted beet chili artfully named "She is Risen."

She is? Maybe not...

When I asked about the origin of the name "She is Risen," my sister smiled, looked a little embarrassed, and said, "Well, it's the beet chili. You know, beets are really has to do with menstruation."

Yum-O! Anyway, it WAS delicious, despite the moniker, and ultimately won the cook-off. Now, bro-in-law gets to make ten gallons of the stuff for the larger city-wide competition in two weeks.

Yeah, I'm cute. With my dog hat on. Wanna make something of it?

Guests were not only treated to a buffet of delightful chilis for the eatin' and the votin', they were also treated to live music and adorable toddlers on the loose...including my 18 month-old nephew, who made not one, not two, but THREE new girlfriends in the course of an hour. Unfortunately for him, his new babes were all a bit older than him, and much he could do little but stagger after them, arms outstretched, so hopped up on the thrill of the chase that he could only articulate excited grunts a la Frankenstein: "Ruuuuhhhhhh....FRIEND??!!!!!"

And this is where it gets interesting. Around 8 pm, guess whose ovaries decided not to play well with others? Yes! Mine! Again! By the time we got home, the only comfortable position for me was on hands and knees, head tucked down. We also arrived home to a shivering dog and broken furnace.

It was in the teens Sunday night, and our house was around 50 degrees. It was so cold our bananas were developing a gray sheen and you could almost see your breath. To stay warm, we huddled under layers of quilts and comforters. So. To recap: we'd eaten lots of chili with BEANS. The only position in which I could find ovarian comfort was a FETAL TUCK. And we were huddled under piles of HEAVY QUILTS.

Can you say "DUTCH OVEN FUN?"

The furnace is now fixed, but I am not...ovaries, I shake my fist at you in anger! I know I'll be feeling better again by the end of the week, but I hope this doesn't become a monthly thing with those little bastards. I'm trying hard to visualize healing white light and all that jazz, but I really just want to take a melon-baller to them.

All in all, I have to say I'm digging the whole cook-off challenge concept. There should be more of this! Featuring diverse dishes. Baked goods. (Oh god, I'm already salivating at the prospect of a brownie competition.) Appetizers. Lasagnas. Soups. Heirloom tomato taste-offs. You could rotate themes with the seasons. Iron Chef without the on-the-spot cooking or time limits. Talk about a win-win fundraiser!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Okay, I'm Outting Myself as

A major nerd (to those of you who are not already aware that I am one), but do any of you listen to Car Talk with Click and Clack on public radio? At the end of the show they run through some fake credits, and they list a busy mom as "Herass Mustbedraggen." I feel like her right now. I have three grants due by March 6, one of which I haven't started yet because the other two projects have been eating my brain whole. (And my life, and my posture, and my ability to see long distances.)

Today I remembered that I haven't updated the blog since Monday, so let's see. A few updates:

1) I have had time to rent a movie or two. On deck tonight is Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, which follows last week's Zack & Miri Make a Porno. As I left the video store today I could very nearly hear the clerks whispering, "Oh, that's so sad! She still thinks she's in her mid-twenties!"

2) The house behind us sold, after two vacant years on the market. Because their deck and many windows overlook our tiny backyard that I spend lots of time in during summer, I am already freaking over the caliber of our new neighbors. Please be normal Please be normal Please be normal. The latest additions to our neighborhood were SUPERFUNGOODTIME kind of people, if your idea of SUPERFUNGOODTIMES involve late night ambulance visits, sirens, squad cars, screaming fights in public, and the idea that the man of the house is staring across the street at you, and your yard, "sketching your gardens" in his sketchpad.

3) I've been eating a lot of chocolate lately. My new favorite? Choxie milk chocolate with almonds and smoky sea salt. It's like a chocolate-covered pretzel, but BETTER.

4) When you work twelve hours straight at the computer and drive home late at night, would you fail a roadside sobriety test? I'm thinking it's possible!

Oh, guess what!!?!?! Just as I wrote this, a squad car whipped past, sirens and lights a-blazin.' Also, the dog crapped in the back hall and was trying to furtively eat it while still warm.

This is EXACTLY what Sheila E. meant by "The Glamorous Life."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Tales from the Grant Files

I’m writing an eye-wateringly massive Federal grant proposal right now to improve the physical education program for a northwestern Wisconsin school district…because I am a thorn in their side and asked them to, the PE department recently surveyed the kids to determine their program direction. Most of the students took the questionnaires seriously, offering thoughtful, honest answers. However, there were some responses that were absolutely GOLDEN. So I thought I’d share the best ones with you:

(3rd-8th graders:)

Q. At home, what do you normally drink with meals?

The defensive: "None of your bussiness"

The lazy class clown: "Alcohol"

The destined for bizarre greatness: "I drink fatness and computers"

(9th-12th graders:)

Q. Phy Ed is important because:

The unintentionally amusing: "It keeps us in the best shape of all the classes"

The unintentionally clever: "It’s a waist of an hour"

The honest: "It’s not"

The empathy award: "Lazy kids (not in sports) need to be active" AND "Get fat kids in shape"

The guy: "There are tits!" -AND- "Girls do jumping jacks"

Q. I dislike Phy Ed when:

Not a fan of team sports: "We play football, baseball, softball, or soccer. It eliminates a lot. I know."

Paging Pretty in Pink: "The preppy’s get treated better than us normal people."

Doesn’t want to Be Like Mike: "When we do dump crap like basketball."

The guy again: "There are no titties"

The Future Peace Negotiator: "Everyone is fighting and not getting along."

The kid who’s failing English but still adorable as hell: "When we play batmitten."

Voted most likely to pimp his own ride: "I’m not showin’ off my ballin’ skillz."

Watching too many Seth Rogan movies: "I’m not naked with other men."

Don’t I know it: "When we do fitness testing like sit and reach because I can’t stretch! :( "

Q. I like Phy Ed when:

The brownnoser: "I feel challenged but respected."

It scares me to know he may be a parent one day: "My team wins."

Idiocracy in action: "Plooy got hit in the nuts."

What PE curriculum is he following: "Days when I’m awake."

Again. What PE curriculum is he following: "We can sleep."

The nostalgic: "Everyone is acting like they are in first grade."

Well, at least he’s consistent: "I see some hot titties shakin’ it in the weight room!"

Friday, February 13, 2009

Post #300. Will there be confetti or balloons?

What the heck am I doing posting at 6:30 on a Friday night? Well, I am still at work, darling deary-O's. I'll be here for the next week, hunkered down in the thick of high grant season. One year I was at the office 48 hours straight, awake the entire time, so this may not be an exagerration. I drove home after that stretch with my windows cranked open in thirty degree weather, to keep from falling asleep. Once I was tucked in my own bed, I discovered I was too tired to sleep. That's the worst.

Right now, when I should be writing a Table of Contents and Abstract for my grant proposal, I'm fantasizing about Liz Lovely's cookies. Go look at the cowgirl cookies. How can you not resist that? Hang on....I'm going to go look again.

Okay, I'm back. I really don't want my reheated spaghetti for dinner now. I want Liz Lovely cookies. I tried her chocolate fudge cookies a few weeks ago...well, I didn't really TRY them so much as jam them into my mouth and nearly faint from the sheer taste bliss. Cocoa ecstacy. You couldn't really chew them; you kind of had to gum them, they were so dense and rich, and they were rolled in sugar...Soft cookies rolled in confectioners' sugar bring me to my knees.

Oh dear, this needs to stop.

I put together an online order of just four cookies, but the total with shipping came to $12. They really are worth $3 a cookie, but I know I could drive to Milwaukee and visit my sister and darling nephew AND get these divine cookies at Outpost--two sweet deals wrapped up in one.

The trick will be leaving my desk at some point in the next week, other than for the most necessary of human activities.

Consuming Liz Lovely cookies seems like a fairly necessary human activity, if you ask me.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

You Need a Carrot to Get In

I have been an emotional wreck lately…first there was the cyst issue, and we lost a close family friend last week. His kidneys were donated to a man and a woman. Out of loss comes new life. A good person recently wrote to me, "Interesting how regenerative life is. One flower or tree dies and another takes its place." If you are not an organ donor, please arrange to be one.

But the news on this front is not all heartbreaking. My seed packets have arrived (huzzah!) I have finished the most formidable of my remaining grants for the season (double huzzah!!) And I continue to meet with amazing book clubs full of intelligent, generous, inspiring women. (Thanks to all of them!!) Tonight I met with a fantastic crew at the Appleton Barnes & Noble…as we laughed over the anecdote in the book involving a male character experimenting with a strategically-placed carrot during an episode of self-…uh, well you get the picture, a burly man approached. He was wearing one of those hats with the sheepskin earflaps and rapist glasses.

“You guys look like you’re having way too much fun!” he commented. “No guys allowed?”

“You need a carrot to get in,” someone said under her breath, and we all laughed harder. The poor guy wandered away, confused.

I continue my quest for health improvement, with mixed results. I was experiencing a strange and irritating pain on the right side of my face on Saturday, and I figured it might be vitamin toxicity (I’m taking more supplements than you can shake a stick at. Well, you COULD shake a stick at them, but nothing would happen.) I skipped my daily dose on Sunday, but I haven’t learned my “Our Bodies Are Not Science Experiments, Young Lady!” lesson. Tonight I ate a bunch of bean soup, salad, and a Garden burger before meeting with the book club, so I prepared my digestive system with a bunch of probiotics & enzymes to avoid gassing the members of the book club to death. And now my stomach feels like I swallowed a small, stone garden gnome.

Also, I said I had an embarrassing story for you. (Other than my fart prevention initiatives.) This involves our garage door handles. Here’s a photo of them:

See that silvery metal poking through? A giant chip of the black paint fell off last fall. I told J that we needn’t worry, I saved the chip so we could glue it back on. I was so proud of myself for not only finding the chip, but having the wherewithal to pick it up before I drove over it so we could reattach it. Brilliant!

J, however, had a different reaction. “You don’t GLUE a paint chip back on! You repaint it, you goof!”

Oh yeah.

(And it gets weirder. J just asked me from the other room: "Are you listening to HORNS?" Me, already laughing: "No! What??!!" J: "It sounds like you're listening to The Farmer in the Dell on trumpets.")

I can only end with this:

Saturday, February 07, 2009

GCC Presents: Carolyn Jewel

I hope you are all having a lovely weekend! I would like to introduce you to the latest touring author from the GCC...welcome to my blog, Carolyn Jewel! She's the author of Scandal, and I don't even know if you'll even get beyond the cover to read the interview. Just take a look:
.................oh! Right! The rest of the interview! Um, let's see. What comes next. Ah, yes...the plot overview! Here we go:
The earl of Banallt is no stranger to scandal. But when he meets Sophie Evans, the young wife of a fellow libertine, even he is shocked by his reaction. This unconventional and intelligent woman proves to be far more than an amusing distraction-- she threatens to drive him to distraction. Unlike the women who usually fall at Banallt's feet, and into his bed, Sophie refuses to be seduced. And soon Banallt desires her more than ever-- and for more than an illicit affair.

Years later, the widowed Sophie is free, and Banallt is determined to win the woman he still loves. Unfortunately, she doesn't believe his declaration of love and chivalrous offer of marriage-- her heart has already been broken by her scoundrel of a husband. And yet, Sophie is tempted to indulge in the torrid affair she's always fantasized about. Caught between her logical mind and her long-denied desire, Sophie must thwart Banallt's seduction-- or risk being consumed by the one man she should avoid at all costs...
.....................sorry, was staring at the cover again. Yes. So on with the rest! The no-BS chicks at Smart Bitches who Love Trashy Books say, "Jewel weaves a furious sexual tension between Banallt and Sophie that reaches and maintains scorching levels. . . . This book took my breath away."
And check out this review:
WOW. Simply, wow. That is the only word I can use to describe this masterpiece. It has been such a long time since I have read such a rich, emotional and tension filled romance. Not only did Scandal have me hooked from the very first page, but this is the first book, in a very long time, where I had to read straight through into the wee hours of the night because I couldn't put it down ... Carolyn Jewel has written a mature and emotional romance that has everything from passion, love and most importantly respect. The respect that a man and woman can have for one another.-- Kate Garrabrant, Romance Novel TV
..................Cover. Where was I. Right! My interview!!
1) Now that you are published, what (if anything) have you changed about your writing routine?I write much more often and under a good deal more stress. The stress actually helps me get things done so it's not as bad as it sounds.

2) Do you listen to music while you write? Sometimes. It depends. Sometimes I can't tolerate the distraction of my need to sing along or hum if there's no lyrics. Other times music is exactly what I need to get my mind off other stuff.

3) Have you found that as you've developed your writing and story telling skills, you watch movies or read books 'differently?' I'm not ashamed to admit I am one of those people who willingly suspends disbelief. Unless a movie really stinks (remake of Planet of the Apes) I love it. Then 1-2 days later, I might think, huh. Maybe it wasn't that great. Or not, especially if Jet Li was in the movie. With books, I also try to suspend my inner critic. But if the book is flawed, it's hard, if not impossible. When a book is great, I'm swept along, willingly and adoringly. My ability to analyze a piece of literature was pretty finely honed in grad school (which for the most part left out the discussions of craft that obsess most writers) so I can critique with the best of them, I like to think. But why spoil a fine book with that sort of deconstruction? That said, I think my experience of a book or movie is intrinsicly informed by the fact that I'm a writer; I'm now hard-wired to notice those things.

4) What vacation would be most inspiring to you as a writer? Vacation? What is this "vacation" of which you speak? Any vacation that gets me away from my house and my laptop.

5) What is one of your strangest / most quirky author experiences? I am very sorry, but I am too boring to answer this question. Though, one time I was at a book signing sitting next to another author and some guy came up and gave her a photograph of his penis. But, as you may have noted, this did not happen to me. And, yes, it was as creepy as it sounds.
Thanks Carolyn! I am totally, totally, TOTALLY going to buy this book. I feel like the Jon Lovitz character on the old "Tales of Ribaldry" SNL sketch, all tenting my fingers and giggling.
Hey, did you like how I highlighted that little bit in the last answer? Yeah, I thought you'd appreciate my bringing it to your attention. This is the last GCC post 'til June, so you're stuck with just me for the next few months. I'll be back Tuesday with a post about my latest Space Cadet moment.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

I'm Alive!

Hey there! Um, yeah...I'm a bad blogger. But now that I'm back to work again, I'm being a great employee! In fact, I will be working the next 28 days straight to make up for losing a week and a half of work to my temperamental reproductive system.

I've been cooking like a crazy woman now that my healthier eating program is in full swing. Evidence!
My somewhat off-center banana-flax-Fiber One muffins. They were massively goey in the center, which I adored. And yes, I did eat the goofy, suggestive-looking one because I've got strong Food Martyr tendencies. Just following in my Mom's footsteps. ("Oh, you kids eat the nice ones. I'll eat the burned one that fell on the floor and looks like it's covered in scabs.")

Recently (and by 'recently' I mean probably a month ago) I discovered this chrysalis husk attached to one of my winterberry shrubs. A reminder that summer, with all its attendant butterflies and flowers, is not too far away. Isn't that a wonderful thought in the dead of winter?

I just placed my heirloom seed order with Seed Savers Exchange (spinach, lettuce, swiss chard, 2 kinds of tomatoes, peppers, 2 kinds of basil, sunflowers, and something new: ground cherries!). Because I only have space to grow my own herbs & veggies in containers, I'm also going to buy a half-share of produce from one of two local CSA programs (Olden Produce and Good Earth Farm). Right now, Olden Produce is winning, because they offer blueberries and peaches. (But Good Earth offers mushroom and honey shares. What to do, what to do!)

I'll start my seedlings indoors under lights in March and giggle and clap and jump up and down like a six year-old given a Daily Pony every time I see a tender new shoot push up through the soil. (Would you believe me if I told you I used to read my mother's gardening encyclopedias when I was home sick from school in my youth? Aww, I knew you would!)

Someday I will have acres of gardens and chickens and a pig named Sal who lives in a pigloo. And maybe a beehive, too. And a pond that is home to a bullfrog named Morty. You can all come and visit me!

If you're interested in buying a produce or meat share from a local CSA, find one near you here: